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What Is Social Media and How Should I Use It? FAQs for Writers

Award-winning writer Kathy Widenhouse has helped hundreds of nonprofits and writers produce successful content and has gained 600K+ views for her writing tutorials. She is the author of 9 books. See more of Kathy’s content here.

Social media is part of our lives. And it can be a tremendous tool for writers.

But when I asked my browser, “What is social media?” so I could learn more about using social media in my writing business, the answers made me feel ignorant. 

I read phrases like, interactive digital channels that facilitate creation of content … the building of virtual networks … means of interaction between people in virtual communities … web-based communication tools with common elements … 

All that techno gibberish was intimidating.

But it also isn’t useful, at least to me. I’m a practical girl. I want clarity so I can understand tools and put them to use in helpful ways. Along with that, I want to make content writing simple for other writers. 

So, instead of looking at expert lingo, I looked at questions from writers about social media. I combined those questions with a few of my own. The answers I found have helped me understand how I can use social media for my writing. I hope they help you, too.

What is social media? FAQs for #writers with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriter #WritingTips #WebContentWriting

Social media questions and answers for writers

Q. What is social media?

Social media are digital tools that allow you to create and share online content publicly. 

Three things are useful to understand about social media:

  1. It’s a set of tools
  2. The tools are online
  3. The tools allow you to share content publicly

Q. What is social media used for?

Social media also allows users to …

  • Stay in touch with family and friends
  • Keep up to date with current events
  • Ask other users for information, product reviews, and ideas
  • Share their opinions 
  • Find others that share their interests

More than anything, the relational element pulls in users. “People crave interaction and connection with other people,” according to the good folks at Social Media Today. If you have an internet connection, you can connect with anyone anywhere in the world. That’s very good news for you as a writer. Social media can help extend your reach and connect with prospects and readers. 

Plus, social media is empowering. Anyone can create social media site, have their say, and reach the world. That means you.

Q. What are some disadvantages and advantages of social media for writers?

Let’s start with the disadvantages first and get them out of the way. 

  • Time. If you’re not careful, you can spend more time on social media than on writing. 
  • Negative feedback. Users can post critical comments on your social media sites. However, this disadvantage can be turned into an advantage when you respond to a cranky user, open a dialogue, and use the comments to improve your content or your delivery.
  • Low response. You post and post and post … and there’s crickets. If that’s the case, then consider your content and create more open-ended, engaging questions. And make sure you are commenting on others’ posts in your niche. They will respond by posting on yours.
  • Privacy. By definition, social media opens you to the world. If you use social media for advertising, you need to surrender personal information. You need to take measures so security does not become an issue.

Advantages of social media for writers

  • Reach. Your social media sites can attract users from all over the world.
  • Feedback. You can ask questions of your followers and get answers. Customers comment.  Interaction provides you with a boatload of valuable information about your audience and about your niche. 
  • Traffic. You can post a short snippet on your social media sites, link to your website, and readers will hop over. (Be sure you have a mechanism in place on your site to capture their contact information so you can stay in touch with them after that.) 
  • Revenue. The law of averages applies here. More traffic means more clients and more sales.

Q. What are social media apps?

A social media application (“app”) is a shortened version of a social media network that you can use on the go, typically on a mobile device. An app often has less functionality than a full platform. But it offers easy access and quick use.

Q. What is a social media platform?

While a social media app is a shortened version, a social media platform is the fully functional website – all the bells and whistles. 

Q. What’s the difference between a social media platform and a social media network?

Some people refer to a “social media platform” and a “social media network” as the same thing. Others make a distinction. 

That distinction is this: a social media platform is a specific online tool you use to broadcast your content to the public, as in “I reach users through my Facebook platform.” A social media network is your overall online strategy, as in “I reach users through my social media network which includes Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.”

Q. What are the different types of social media platforms?

Social media platforms can be classified in five big-picture types, according to the professional digital training experts at Digital Vidya

  • Social networks: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn
  • Media sharing networks: Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube
  • Discussion forums: Reddit, Quora, Digg
  • Bookmarking and content creation networks: Pinterest, Flipboard
  • Consumer review networks: Yelp, Zomato, TripAdvisor

Q. What is social media marketing?

For writers, marketing is the different ways you get clients who pay you to write for them or the different ways you sell your content. Taken a step further … social media marketing is using social media to promote your writing services, your books, and your content.  

Q. What is a social media manager?

A social media manager uses digital platforms to promote a brand. That includes creating a social media marketing strategy, setting up social media accounts, creating content, interacting with users, and tracking results. Plenty of businesses employ full-time social media managers or use freelancers to manage their online reach. If you’re a solopreneur, you can learn basic social media management to use in your biz.

Q. What is a social media strategy?

A social media marketing strategy is a summary of what you want to achieve on social media and the activities you’ll undertake to get there. It’s a plan. You put it down on paper. Your strategy includes steps for you to take to use social media to engage with readers and yes, promote your writing – steps like:

  • Deciding your goals
  • Defining your audience
  • Setting up social media accounts
  • Creating a content calendar
  • Creating content
  • Tracking results
  • Adjusting your steps to meet goals better or faster

Q. What is a social media influencer?

A social media influencer is a user who has built a large social media audience, has earned credibility in a particular niche, and leverages that reputation to influence followers.

Now that you understand what social media is …

Create a strategy to market your writing services or your content on social media. It needn’t be complicated. In fact, social media is most valuable when used consistently. When you create a simple strategy to use on social media, you will be able to stick with it and build a following steadily over the long haul.

Do you have a question or comment about social media for writers? Share in the Comments.

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